Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"We're going to bury you..."

It's a sad thing that people have singled out the "Mormon" Church as a scapegoat for the passing of Proposition 8, amending the California Constitution to define marriage as a heterosexual act, overriding a state Supreme Court ruling. The backlash against the passing of this proposition has been responsible for a lot of hateful targeting of the LDS Church for exercising its right to speak up for what it considers to be a moral issue in a free election. Let me say, up front, that I didn't agree with the Church's meddling in California politics. While I think concerned folks from Utah had no business contributing to a political campaign in another state, I believe the Church had every right to advise its members in that state concerning what they believe to be a critical issue concerning the ultimate nature of the traditional family.

In fact, we were not alone. Months before the first ads ran on Prop. 8, San Francisco Catholic Archbishop George Niederauer reached out to Mormons (having been bishop of SLC for eleven years, he knows Mormons well) and asked for their help on Prop. 8--seeking the support of many other denominations as well to form "the core" of this volunteer operation. The money was grass-roots donated by concerned people of many conservative faiths. The Mormon Church did not contribute money to this fund. Nobody was coerced. Our young missionaries would never break into anyone's home and scatter decency to the wind as shown in that reprehensible TV ad.

It all seems a bit ridiculous to me, a simple matter of semantics. If the word "marriage" is the problem, then why not continue to call gay alliances "civil unions," or "gay inseparabilities," or whatever else they choose. Equality in every way except their use of the word. I think everyone agrees that giving everyone the same legal rights to make decisions for incapacitated loved ones, the same insurance coverage, and the same respect is the only decent way to go--which, by the way, the Mormon Church advocates, as evidenced by specifically pointed statements published in a Church News release concerning rights of hospitalization/medical care, fair housing, employment, probate/wrongful death rights and domestic partnership rights for gay couples, who have every right to live and love together in a state of gay bliss. Just not in marriage. The M-word.

LDS Temples across California (and in Utah) have been damaged, chapels have been vandalized. Facebook groups have formed telling people to boycott Utah in general (tourism, ski resorts, the Sundance Film Festival, etc.). Websites have formed calling for an end to the Church's tax-exempt status, saying things like: "We're going to bury you (shades of Nikita Kruschev!)," and "Destroy Utah--it is a Hate State," calling us a "religion of Bigots and Hate-Mongers!" We seem to have become a punching bag, and people feel free to shout profanities at us, spit on our cars, block access roads to our temples, shoot out the windows and glass doors of our chapels, and wield their cans of spray paint like weapons. This morning's news reports 2 more chapels in my neighborhood were vandalized overnight and two historic buildings were burned.

What I want to know is this: where are the protesters when other churches exercise their right to decry what they consider to be moral issues? Where are those others who also helped Yes on 8 and should be standing by us? Is Abortion a fair issue? How about pornography? Mormons don't like those things very much, either. Nor do I. Just call me old-fashioned. But please don't call me moron, or scum.

Well. Okay. I feel better now. Sort of. Thanks for letting me vent.

[UPDATE. Wednesday, Nov. 12th] The protests in California and Utah have spread to the East Coast. New Yorkers are now going at it, and protests against Mormons are planned in every state this Saturday: more harrassments and assaults, more horn-honking and spitting, more obscene gestures, hate-mail, and vandalism....


UPDATING THE UPDATE- Friday-Nov 14, 2008, Deseret News: "Envelopes containing a suspicious white powder were mailed (from California) to two LDS Temples and a Catholic fraternity (Knights of Columbus), prompting a hazardous materials response and a federal investigation into who is behind it...." The FBI will probably discover it is cornstarch, but it might have been anthrax.

UPDATING THE UPDATED UPDATE! My good friend Orlan (see comments) suggests you take a look at this article for a well-balanced view of this issue.

. . . .

Also, on this Veteran's Day, when I saw on GMA a tearful mother in a cemetery embracing her son's tombstone, I cried with her, and remembered why I am glad to be movin' on from Bush to Obama....

Photo Credit: Beetle Blogger


paisley said...

i, much like you feel that the wording is the key here... no one is attempting to change a persons moral or religious beliefs wi this proposition..

a line between church and state has to be defined,, and people need to know this proposition is about legal rights,, not theocratic correctness... i am afraid we have the lawmakers and the supporters partially to blame,, as they really never adequately explained that to the people that just hear "gay" and turn the other cheek...

the very fact that the protesters are even publicly acknowledging the voice of a church on this prop makes me believe that even the so called supporters don't get it..

christine said...

Horrible to hear of anyone having to bear a hardship like bigotry, whether it is due to religious beliefs or sexual orientation. It sure has become a complicated issue.

Who were the people from Utah who voted in the California election? Is that part of the story true? and they did so because of the word "marriage"?

If churches want to advise their members how to behave, and if the members want to follow the advice, great, but should they tell people how to vote?

No one should go near the church or the people simply for expressing their opinions. From what I've heard, most supporters of prop 8 are angry about people from other states coming into California to vote. But cruel to take out their frustrations with such hatred.

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

So far as I know, no resident of Utah went to vote in the California election, although phone calls were apparently made from Utah to California voters, and money raised in Utah went to Support Prop. 8 in whatever fashion. No church money. All grass-roots stuff from people who believed they were helping. I think it was a BIG MISTAKE, and they should have kept their noses out of other people's propositions.

The church will advise on issues they consider moral issues, but will NEVER tell people how to vote.
Free agency is VERY IMPORTANT among Mormons.

christine said...

Good to know that Joyce. I'm glad you're helping to spread the truth. so many lies, rumors, and misunderstandings are out there about this issue. It's hurtful and wrong.

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

For myself, I say let people love and marry who they love. I have no quarrel with the words.

Orlan said...

Joyce, it is not unfortunate that the Mormon church is being targeted. It is generally acknowledged that without their mobilization of members and huge financial contributions the measure would not have passed. And it did so by a very slim majority of votes.

What is unfortunate is the behavior of a few people who are understandably outraged.

Referendum is also a bad way to legislate. Constitutional ammendments are too far reaching in effect to be passed by a simple majority of votes. This country was established to protect the rights of the MINORITIES not rule by the majority.

The "M" word is also part of the problem as is defining it as a "gay" issue. What is really at the center is the ability of people to create a civil union which is what a marriage lisence does. It creates a legally binding entity that enjoys about eleven hundred advantages for the people, including the right to be taxed as a household and not as individuals. Children living with and caring for older parents, siblings living together, and peolple not related but sharing living space and expenses should be able to enjoy the benefits of a civil union.

The constitution should not be ammended to define marriage. Leave that to Webster which recognizes same sex marriage.

Mormons can still have their eternal and celestial marriage and it does not affect me. I, however should be able to create a civil union and not be denied rights, freedoms, and liberties that are available only to heterosexuals who are in a civil union by virtue of their marriage.

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

Orlan ~ *applause* I agree with you 100%! You've been a good friend for a long time, and I appreciate your comment! You deserve the BEST.

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

As does everyone!

Annie said...

I am so sickened by all of this Joyce. We are Catholics. Our best friends happen to be an LDS couple and HE happens to be a bishop of his church. We've been best friends with no religious conflict for 28 years. We've suffered and celebrated through births, weddings, funerals. I don't know what I would do without Barbara in my life.

That this horror show is spreading across the country is mind-bloggling. We live in a democracy. People will disagree. It's a given. Churches should not be targeted for their support anymore than anyone should use Brad Pitt for target practice (he contributed $1M to No on 8) One side will win and another will not.

A look at the history of marriage clearly shows that whether marrige is rooted in spiritual beliefs or a contractual system, it has always been man/woman. It has a stablizing effect on societies and civilizations in general. That being said, there is no reason why civil unions cannot be sanctioned. No one should be excluded from a legal and loving partnership. However, I believe that marrige is a sacrament. There can be no religious ceremony at least in a Catholic church for same sex couples. That belief does not make me a bigot. It makes me true to the teaching of my Faith.

Jo said...

Good grief. I don't know what to say. I absolutely support the right for gay marriages, 101%, but I don't see why the backlash here, but then I'm based in the UK. Why can't people be more tolerant? I'm sorry if you're finding this tough, Joyce, I know you are very big-hearted, tolerant person.

Jo said...

My opinion is we all have the right to freedom of speech. This is what makes our country so great!

I do believe a person should be able to love who they want to love, and marry who they want to marry, even if it's the same gender. They aren't hurting anyone.

Yet I know that most churches do not agree, which is their right too. You can't always make people believe or change into what you want them to.

It's a battle which will NOT go away easily, or be solved easily.
I just want a world of peace, without all the hostility.

Between the election, and this we may end up with another Irac with people fighting each other within our own country.

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

I really do appreciate all of you coming by to leave your comments! xo

Kay said...

The less judgement and division the better. The more tolerance and love, the better. I hope you stop feeling sad and hurt soon Joyce.

Anonymous said...

I am so sad this has been happening, and sorry that you are hurt by it. Unfortunately, it is not only the Mormons that have been singled out. I am sad that it has gotten violent in some areas regarding any group that has anti-gay sentiment - it exactly the thing we are fighting against.

In my hometown, it was the Yes on 8 folks got that got violent with No on 8 supporters just days before the vote. For any group, it's just the wrong direction.

The point of all this is for equal rights under the law. It is what this country is all about. It is what allows us all to practice the religions we choose, have the families we choose, and live the lives we want to lead. The minute you start wanting to limit the rights of one group of people (under the law), for whatever reason, you begin wandering down a slippery slope that opens our country up to discrimination of all kinds. Any kind of law-sanctioned discrimination, regardless of personal beliefs, sets us back as a nation decades and is not what this country is all about.

I look forward to the day when people don't just tolerate each other, but rather completely accept that we all get to be who we are, and we share a commonality that should have us rise above it all - we have to live on a small planet together.

Anonymous said...

PS: Jo and Annie: I'm a gay catholic and I would never force the church - any church - to change its beliefs no matter what I think of them. If a church, any church, is going to change, that's got to come from within the body of the church, from its own parishioners. Not any outside source.

What we're fighting for now is marriage under the law. Civil Unions are not the same thing. Domestic partnerships are not the same thing. It's not a semantics game. They are two very different things. During the brief moment when we were allowed to marry in California, we got married by our friends or by JPs in our own backyards or at City Hall. Not churches. And we don't want that. And nothing was demanded of churches and nothing will be. It's not even close to being the issue. The two must be kept separate for the good of both "sides" of the argument: churches need to not feel threatened by something that simply will not affect them, and pro equal rights groups need to stop targeting churches as the purveyors of evil. When you do that you are actually bringing religion into a civil debate where it simply does not belong.

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

PWADJ, I feel the same way, sad that this happened, and sorry that you were hurt by it.